Amplifying the Success of Single-Site Charter Leaders of Color

Join Kim Smith in a discussion of the challenges and opportunities of single-site charter school leaders of color. We will hear from school leaders about strategies that they employ to navigate the challenges and Ms. Smith will introduce resources and strategies from the Charter Collaborative designed to increase access and funding for leaders of color. The session will be a panel discussion with two leaders of color followed by a brief overview of the Charter Collaborative and an opportunity for attendees to brainstorm collaboration opportunities.


Kimberly A. Smith is the co-founder of the National Charter Collaborative—an initiative to support single-site charter leaders of color in creating quality schools. Ms. Smith serves as Executive Director of the League of Innovative Schools at Digital Promise where she leads a national network of forward-thinking education leaders in innovative technologies and practices. Previously, Ms. Smith worked in leadership roles at Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, PBS, Discovery Education, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Kim is an Aspen-Pahara Institute fellow focused on education reform leadership and pioneering initiatives.


Richard Lee is the Founding Principal of Academy of the City Charter School in Woodside, NY, a school that is as diverse as the Borough of Queens. Previously, Richard was the Division Coordinator for seven years for grades 1–4 at The Bank Street School for Children. Richard has organized, led and presented in various workshop including NYSAIS, DOE and NAIS. Most of these have been about Children of Color affinity groups and Social Studies curriculum. Richard is Asian-American
and feels strongly about the presence of administrators who reflect the community
that they serve. 

Rafiq R. Kalam Id-Din II, Esq. is Founder & Managing Partner of Ember Charter Schools for Mindful Education, Innovation and Transformation. A social entrepreneur, activist, teacher, lawyer and nonprofit leader with over 20 years experience, Rafiq grew up in severe poverty in inner city Philadelphia during the height of the crack epidemic and violence of the 1980s and early 1990s. A two-time graduate of the University of Virginia (Bachelors in English and African-American Studies, and a Master of Teaching—English Education), Rafiq received his JD from NYU School of Law as a Thurgood Marshall Scholar, becoming an Editor of the Law Review and President of the Student Bar Association.

Nick Avila was raised in Boulder, Colorado, where he received a degree in Political Science at the University of Colorado. He then studied law at the Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center in New York before entering the world of education in 2010. At that time, he began teaching at the Ricardo Flores Magon Academy in Denver. In 2012, he helped co-found PODER Academy in Cheyenne, Wyoming, which was the first charter school in the city. He now serves as the Chief Operating Officer for PODER Elementary and Secondary schools.